Highlanders lock Jarrad Hoeata plans to prove that he can offer a physical approach to the game up front and fulfill his dream of filling Brad Thorn's big boots in the All Blacks side.
Hoeata was left out of the World Cup squad last year, but was given the nod to play in three Test matches, which served to wet his appetite for more international rugby.
The 28-year-old tore a pectoral muscle during pre-season training and is still six weeks away from returning to the field.
The departure of Thorn will have a few second row forwards eyeing a way into the All Blacks mix, but Hoeata is determined that he is the man for the job.
"Brad Thorn's gone now to Japan and that's the position that I want to take," Hoeata told APNZ. "We've got a very similar game, we both have an uncompromising style of game, so hopefully I can fill that spot and deliver what he did over so many years."
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has been an excellent mentor for Hoeata, and can be credited with the idea to move the big man from flank to lock two years ago for the New Zealand Maori.
"What Jarrad showed everybody last year was that he has a big workrate, and that's everything from cleaning rucks, moving bodies and making tackles," Joseph said.
"There is an uncompromising durability about his rugby. He is also a very aggressive player with ball in hand. As a lock forward there aren't too many with that expertise with the ball but his time as a loose forward has held him in good stead."
However, Joseph does concede that Hoeata still has a lot to learn about playing in the second row.
"He's got a lot to learn given that he's only been playing in this position at this level for the best part of a season but he's a strong, durable, determined sort of a player," Hoeata added.
"When it comes to work ethic and work rate there's not a problem."
Sam Whitelock, Ali Williams and Anthony Boric are currently considered the top locks in New Zealand, and there is still competition between Hoeata, his Highlanders teammate Josh Bekhuis and new Crusaders signing Tom Donnelly to join them in the All Blacks setup.
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